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The data center backup and recovery market went through a disruptive transformation in the past few years. Many of the traditional players in this space were forced to quickly understand that there are new emerging players and that it's time to make major overhauls.

The demands of today's customers are multi-dimensional and assurances of data being protected on-premise and in the cloud are fundamental requirements. We also saw a new wave of cyber crimes in the past year, pushing customers to spend about $1 billion in ransomware payouts.

There are also more and more regulatory and retention requirements than you can even imagine. And the amount of overall data growth is something that our customers are struggling to keep up with -- and it is not going to slow down.

So how does anyone, including Gartner, keep up with it all? In this latest release, I would have to admit that I'm pretty surprised at some of the results including those placed at ability to execute and completeness of vision. Are they truly of the same class of the traditional players who admittedly seem to be all falling down and to the left each year? Is the shift due to the desperate need for change in a market that hasn't changed in well over a decade?

It's probably a combination of many factors, but there is something to be said for those who are in new spots. They are software players with flexibility in hardware choices and highly scalable architectures. Perhaps Gartner looked into all of this and decided, based on their criteria, that this is where the chips are going to fall this year. 

What are the takeaways?

In reading through the long analysis, Gartner provides as much detail about the likes of niche and visionary (which are very few) as they do for OEM leaders we have previously seen (Dell/EMC, Veritas, Commvault, etc.). It does bother me that as negatives for these players, they will list things like complexity and high maintenance -- there has to be a technical and customer demand reason.

I also wished that they would discuss more in-depth details about why new players like Cohesity and Rubrik reached the leadership quadrant, and why they see that Veeam is justified at the top of the ability to execute. The one thing that goes hand in hand with Veeam is the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.  

To get a little deeper, it's a much better use if Gartner provides more detail about the most impactful players in the market. The change has been so dramatic over the past two years. With the global customer base we support, this certainly will give customers concerns and questions -- which in the end is what keeps us so busy!

I do feel there is an under representation of automation and orchestration (A&O) components as evaluation criteria, which we think is incredibly relevant for modernizing data protection strategy. The software-defined players on the market are very API driven and can provide the essential tie-in to A&O frameworks, thus eliminating human error.

One area we see represented in the report is cloud data management. Gartner puts a good amount of emphasis on a vendor's ability to help customers get their data out to the cloud. The report instructs to "invest in backup solutions that address data protection requirements in the data center, public cloud and edge environments. Prefer solutions that offer a single pane of glass to manage these distributed environments."

It also mentions "select vendors that support tiering of backup copies to the public cloud to save on-premises storage costs. Choose solutions that support recovery of backup copies in the public cloud to address test/development or disaster recovery use cases." This includes support for public cloud IaaS and PaaS backup capabilities to protect cloud-native workloads, particularly virtual machines and applications hosted in AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. A lot of our customers are looking to compare cloud native snapshots or use the agent-based features that may provide a more robust solution.

Exploring data insights

As with every other year, I use this information as a piece of the overall industry knowledge I obtain. What I find to be the better source for knowledge and experience is through WWT capabilities.

First, WWT provides our customers with some industry leading offerings. In partnership with Datavoss, we engage directly to understand the current state of a customer's infrastructure assets, data capacity, performance and gaps in protection. These extremely informative insights provide high value and accelerate our customers time to a technology decision.

There is a four-phase methodology used to gain insights and deliver outcomes to our customers.

  1. Discovery: Collection of needed information is agent-less, with no software required to be installed on-prem.
  2. Normalization: Data is normalized and indexed.
  3. Analytics: Multidimensional correlation algorithms are applied and automated insights produced based on the need of the customer.
  4. Insight: Data is visually presented to the customer in a fully immersive digital experience.

Second, we make a living out of helping our customers evaluate secondary storage and backup and recovery platforms with specific application workloads in the Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

Within the ATC you'll find a full portfolio of each of the top vendor's equipment available to our customers for evaluation, including on-demand demos and labs for our most popular equipment and scheduled labs for all others. You can also engage our experts in a briefing or workshop to get a view of the landscape based on our hands-on experience with real workloads.

Feel free to contact us directly to talk about what makes sense for your organization.